A lawyer friend was telling me about his experience watching the CIS Cup final in a hospitality suite at Hampden Park in Glasgow last Sunday. Enjoying a meal and a few refreshments before the match between Rangers and Celtic, one of the attendees began squirming in his seat, his face turning as red as the Shiraz he was quaffing.
The nature of the noise was so protruding that the Rangers fan felt the need to apologise to his learned legal friends, an eclectic mix of Celtic and Rangers fans and neutrals, for the toxic fumes that his brethren were emitting. To the uninitiated, the Rangers support were not bouncing to a selection of Dean Martin ditties. "It was like they had the Billy Boys on loop," said the lawyer.
Unless my ears were deceiving me, the anti-Catholic and discriminatory No Pope of Rome, the Famine Song and the Billy Boys - containing lyrics that were outlawed by UEFA around 2006 - have made a startling return to the forefront of the Glasgow club's supporters' songbook. Perhaps they were only ever lying dormant, waiting to be dusted down.
Curiously enough, a few happenings swirling around the weekend of the old League Cup final might prove to be more poignant than thousands of football "fans" singing racist and sectarian songs in public. Michel Platini was re-elected for a further four years as president of UEFA at a ceremony in Paris. Elsewhere, the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh was dissolved before Scotland votes on May 5.
Alex Salmond will try to earn a second term as Scotland's first minister. If he is returned to the post, there is work to be done on the subject of sectarianism. Salmond claims Scotland is a better place under the Scottish National Party's governance after four years. This may be true, but it remains difficult to substantiate such a claim on days like Sunday.
Platini is apparently hellbent on eradicating sectarianism within football. He should start by examining footage of Sunday's match in Glasgow. Rangers were deserving 2-1 victors of a typically-frantic final after extra-time on a day of lamentable sights and sounds.
A few observers have brought this to the fore, but what was captured live on television before millions of viewers was an image that shamed Scottish society, lending credence to the fact that the majority of the Rangers support attending such matches continue to deem it acceptable conduct to sing these songs, seemingly without any fear or punishment from a higher authority.
This is not only Rangers fans singing about Celtic supporters, but something more widespread. In a Europa League match in Lisbon last month, supporters of Rangers were wading up to their knees in fenian blood, the lyrics of the hate-filled tune the Billy Boys.
The fact that they were wading up to their knees in lager and chasers beforehand probably did not help, but using drink is all too convenient an excuse. "The biggest killer in anything, life or sport, is complacency," said Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, on the cursed subject of players potentially betting on matches.
This is true of football. These songs are more than excruciating. If a group of Nazis or men in white hoods began singing about Catholics, Jews or blacks on the slopes of Hampden Park, what would have been the reaction?
If the aforementioned lawyer, teacher or a doctor or a nurse - of whom there would have been many among the Rangers' support - entered their place of work on Monday morning and began singing the lyrics to the racist Famine Song, which mocks the death of a million people in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, urging fellow Scots of Irish ancestry to "go home", they would be suspended, charged by the Police and sacked from their jobs.
In these days of equality, human rights and political correctness, it is not acceptable to sing these songs simply because there are strength in numbers at a football match. Being part of a big crowd never made it right. It is also unacceptable to think they can be chanted on a day off from work.
As Salmond pointed out recently, the authorities can expose such individuals whether in public, in the pub or on the internet. Similarly, the Celtic supporters who find the need to sing pro-IRA songs have no place in football. They should be forced to take their baggage elsewhere.
What continues to visit the door of Rangers is a different matter altogether. Despite the honourable intentions of the club's custodians to root out the miscreants, this is a matter that must be looked at objectively from outside of Scotland.
UEFA have to get involved. The sooner they force Rangers and the Scottish Football Association to realise they can no longer shy away from this pestilence, the better for the utopian ideal of a tolerant, multi-faith and multicultural society in Scotland.
Deducting points, fines and closing Ibrox Stadium on matchdays may be unfair on the progressive supporters who try to support Rangers with positivity rather than bellowing songs that have got nothing to do with football, but what is the answer to solve such a depressing issue when 20,000 fans seemed to be united in defiance and ignorance on Sunday?
It would be interesting to note how many pro-Rangers songs were sung on Sunday that did not contain anti-Catholic sentiments, even if it would be wrong to cite Glasgow as the only place in Scotland where this behaviour is going on. As the observant comedian Billy Connolly said in a recent interview, this is not exclusive to Glasgow.
Celtic may have a problem, but Heart of Midlothian have a problem. What Rangers have is more a terminal sickness. Is it treatable? Time has proved not to be a good healer, but it will need a need a strong injection of reality from UEFA to burn out this tumour.
The old standardised line "they're both as bad as each other" continues to be projected without much thought. This is a myth that unfairly stigmatizes Celtic and fans who have won awards for their level of popularity on the continent. One only needs read the vile reaction to articles such as these to understand the extent of the problem in Scotland rather than offer any thoughtful solution.
Alex Salmond, a Hearts fan, has probably heard a few of these abhorrent songs get an airing at Tynecastle Park over the years. One startling article in a liberal, broadsheet national newspaper a few weeks ago even tried to claim that Celtic supporters employed "a policy of phoney moral indignation towards much of what their rivals do". A policy of phoney moral indignation about being racially abused? The mind boggles.
This is about a wider issue in Scottish society, about the ongoing problem that seems to get its most public airing when Rangers play. There is also the tired old moniker of the 'Old Firm' which is a misleading phrase, a misused term that is certainly more damaging to Celtic's reputation. Celtic and Rangers only share a city. They have as much in common as West Ham United and Newcastle United. Would Celtic's heritage cause as much consternation if they shared a city with Liverpool?
Dundee United and Celtic fans have been the sole Scottish recipients of the FIFA Fair Play awards for their conduct in supporting their respective teams. No club is without problems within their support, but Rangers' ailment far outweighs the problem other clubs face within Scottish football because of the size of their supporter base.
He was a player of some beauty representing Juventus and France, but it is to be hoped that Platini carries a bit of bite as the newly empowered UEFA president when men like Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice secretary, somehow seem to think that the final was a credit to Scotland.
It was shameful. It took me back to the time I was sitting on a train in New South Wales in Australia, and picked up a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald to learn that a minute's silence to mark the death of Pope John Paul II had been broken by shouts from the fans of Hearts at a Scottish Cup semi-final.
This is not the way an all-inclusive society works. These people, the ones who are the people, must be exposed and educated. If they cannot be rehabilitated, they should be banned from the game.
Outside help is needed. Platini's intervention is needed. This rubbish is not going to slip quietly into the night.